How to keep remote workers engaged in 5 simple ways

Remote communication ongoing between team members on the hellofriday platform

The COVID 19 pandemic reshaped the world as we know it in many ways. One of those changes includes a major shift towards remote and virtual working. In a study conducted by Owls lab, it was estimated that around 16% of the companies worldwide are fully remote with around 62% of workers claiming to work remotely at least occasionally. Not only that, studies have also found that 75% of workers globally believe remote working to be the new normal and a high percentage of employees wishing for their job to be partially or completely remote. Plethora of other studies and surveys conducted on the emergence of remote working, suggest that it is something that is likely to increase in the coming future.

There are no doubt tremendous benefits of remote learning that benefit employers as well as the employees. For starters, its cost effective- financially benefiting organizations in the long run- and it allows companies to out-source and globalize their businesses. Employees get to work in the comfort of their homes and can save a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on commute, travel etc. In short it’s a win-win situation for all.

What is employee engagement and why is it so important?

Technically, it is hard to have a universal definition of employee engagement as its criteria may differ from organization to organization or even different industries might have their own set of ideas as to what an engaged employee looks like. However, if we were to define it, it can be said that it refers to the emotional attachment of employees with their organizations. It is a measure of how much an employee would be willing to work in the benefit of the company they work for, how much do they enjoy working there and how loyal they are to their workplace.

Regardless of how one defines employee engagement, one thing is a certain fact: employee engagement does have a positive effect on productivity and the overall performance of the employees. As per a Gallup report, companies that have a highly engaged workforce have a chance of greater profitability by 21%. That is because employees who are engaged are more motivated to work and would go out of their way to give their best.

Increased employee engagement also impacts the retention rates of an organization. If the employees are happy where they work and they feel satisfied, it goes without saying that the chances of them leaving reduces drastically. To sum it up: the more engaged your employees are, the more productive they are going to be which will ultimately lead to a greater revenue.

Keeping your remote workers engaged

Now that we know what employee engagement is and why is it so important. Let’s talk about how can you keep your employees happy and engaged- in this case, your remote workers who you don’t get to see or meet every day. Here are five simple ways by which you can keep your remote workers engaged

1. Provide channels of effective communication

Good communication is the key to develop strong interpersonal relations within a workforce. Not just communication- good communication. Since there is no physical interaction in remote working, smooth and effective communication plays a very important role. Your remote workers need to have a channel of communication that connects them with their team members. A channel that allows seamless conversations and lets employees raise any concerns that they might have.

2. Be empathetic and understanding

In a study conducted by Businesssolver, it was discovered that 75% of employees would prefer empathy over a higher salary and a whopping 83% of employees claimed that they would leave their current workplace for an empathetic one. When it comes to remote work, a lot of employers expect their employees to be available 24/7 as they are ‘working from the comfort of their homes’. However, working from home comes with added pressures such as household responsibilities, internet and connectivity issues and even different time zones. If you are understanding towards your employees' issues and provide them a safe space where their problems are understood, they would more likely be motivated and happy to work for you. Set realistic goals when it comes to availability, targets and deadlines, keeping in mind the personal issues of your employees.

3. Value and appreciate your employees

Appreciation and motivation are directly proportional to each other- the more valued you are, the happier and more satisfied you will be. That is basic human nature. If you want your remote workers to feel encouraged and focused, make sure to give them incentives to do so. This can include providing additional benefits such as healthcare and wellness, having a reward system or even occasional appreciation emails or messages. Anything that would make your employees feel their efforts are acknowledged and valued.

4. Encourage virtual social interaction

One of the biggest drawbacks of remote work is that you’re working alone which could become lonely and boring. And of course, one cannot expect a bored employee to be fully engaged and focused. After all, man is a social animal and we often take our social interactions for granted. If you want your employees to enjoy their work, encourage social interaction as much as possible. Host frequent virtual meetings, incorporate team building activities and promote a collaborative work culture. Make sure to connect your employees as much as possible to create an interactive and social virtual work environment.

5. Challenge your employees

Like I said, remote work has the tendency to be boring and if the work your employees are doing is not challenging enough, it is quite possible that they would slack off. It doesn’t mean that you should break your employees’ backs by giving them work beyond their capabilities, it simply means giving them tasks that are just not boring. In a 2018 survey conducted by Korn Ferry, it was found out that 33% of the employees who leave their jobs do so because they don’t feel challenged enough. So make sure to keep your employees on their toes!

Remember, employee engagement cannot be bought by a higher salary and incentives alone. It is when your employees are happy and satisfied, they would be fully engaged in their work. In the world of remote working, keeping your employees engaged is quite a challenge. However, a few simple strategies can resolve this issue and make your virtual workplace a productive and happy one.